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APEC Summit 2022 | Asia-Pacific leaders condemn war, renew call for open trade

Leaders of the Asia-Pacific region called for an end to Russia’s war on Ukraine and vowed to steer the region’s economies towards sustainable development as they held summits on Saturday.

Host Thailand scored a diplomatic coup to bridge the divide among the 21 members of the Forum for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, which said most members condemned the war.

Russia is an APEC member, as is China, which has generally refrained from criticizing Moscow.

The declaration issued by APEC leaders acknowledged the differing views on the war and said the forum, which is dedicated to promoting large-scale trade and closer economic ties, was not the place to resolve such conflicts. .

But it noted that the war and other security issues “could have significant consequences for the global economy”.

The leaders’ statement said most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine, stressing that it was causing extreme humanitarian suffering and worsening inflation, supply chain troubles, food insecurity and financial risks. .

like a statement issued by Group of 20 major economies in BaliIndonesia, earlier this week, echoed the words of a March 2 UN General Assembly resolution that “condemns in the strongest terms the Russian Federation’s move against Ukraine and its complete and unconditional withdrawal from the territory of Ukraine”. demands”.

Saturday’s meetings joined a flurry of meetings in Southeast Asian countries this week, events that gave leaders opportunities for face-to-face talks that have been rare in the past two years of pandemic precautions.

Most of the activities in such summits take place separately and in intervals before and after the formal meetings.

US Vice President Kamala Harris exchanged brief remarks with Chinese President Xi Jinping On Saturday, before the start of the final APEC meeting, called on both sides to keep the lines of communication open.

Xi said he saw a meeting in the week with President Joe Biden as a step toward the “next stage” in ties between the two largest economies, according to a Chinese government summary of the meeting.

Relations have deteriorated recently amid friction over trade and technology, with the Chinese claiming the separately governed island. Taiwan, human rights and other issues, But Harris told Xi that the US “does not seek confrontation or conflict” with China.

Harris received a “handover” in the form of a symbolic “chalom” bamboo basket from APEC host, Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha.

The US will host next year’s summit in San Francisco, with preliminary meetings taking place in other cities throughout the year.

Although summit meetings often get sidetracked by other more urgent concerns, APEC’s long-term mission is fostering closer economic ties.

Prayuth opened Saturday’s meeting by urging leaders to advance APEC’s agenda of promoting free trade in the Pacific.

“We have to give priority to the implementation of this plan,” Prayuth said.

Security risks are not on the formal APEC agenda, but Prayuth said several recent missile launches by the North were discussed and “everyone shares concern on that issue”.

On Friday, the US vice president and the leaders of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea met separately on Friday and expressed concern about the North’s launch earlier in the day of an intercontinental ballistic missile that landed near Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido. Of.

At APEC in Thailand and the G-20 meeting in Indonesia, officials have chosen to agree to disagree about the war, while bemoaning its deepening impact.

In both Bangkok and Bali, countries that have refused to condemn the invasion are holding back from issuing statements harshly critical of Moscow.

APEC members account for nearly four out of every 10 people and nearly half of world trade. Much of APEC’s work is technical and incremental, carried out by senior officials and ministers, covering areas such as trade, forestry, health, food, security, small and medium-sized enterprises, and women’s empowerment.

The leaders’ manifesto, released on Saturday, also calls for greater use of clean energy and the promotion of more secure, environmentally sustainable food systems, combating illegal, unregulated and unauthorized fishing, illegal logging, marine litter, public Also addresses improvements in health. and better access to vaccination.

Other APEC members include Brunei, Chile, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, who was supposed to represent the Association of Southeast Asian Nations but Did not attend after being diagnosed with COVID-19,

Some roads were closed to traffic near the summit site, a vast parkland in Bangkok’s main convention center. Riot police stood guard behind barricades at major intersections to keep protesters well away.

Police clashed with protesters in another area of ​​Bangkok on Friday, who took the opportunity of an APEC meeting to call for democratic reforms in Thailand and accused the government of promoting APEC policies that favor big business over ordinary people. Huh.

When police stopped them, violent confrontations broke out with some protesters throwing debris and other items at police, who then charged into the crowd, firing rubber bullets. Several people were injured and several arrests were made in the standoff that lasted for several hours.

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